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During the holiday period I was lucky enough to spend a day in Alane Ortega’s Studio in Salisbury, Maryland with her and another artist Morgan Kinne. I got to use materials and methods I’ve never gotten to before. Shaping and cutting glass, constructing forms from these shapes, building up a structural object soldered together. The process is so satisfying, the need for concentration and awareness of the objects you’re working with has opened my eyes to how I can utilise this method in other works. In general this experience has taught me skills I need to know to progress my practice and widen my horizons.

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Morgan Kinne

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Let me tell you a story about my dust pile… is a collaboration between myself and Morgan Kinne, which began in March 2014. Our first show was in June as part of the Embassy Galleries Annuale Event. We had a lot of positive feedback about the show which is documented in the review of the Embassy Annuale event. From that show we have produced a series of prints of the objects and events which took place, and the main image above shows one of these prints hanging in the RSA Open 2014.

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Let me tell you a story about my dust pile…

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It’s time to push forward the ideas that have been developing through the maquettes and smaller sculptural works. This is a 1m x 1m board which I have meticulously hand drawn onto. The floor is in direct relation to the bed constructed on the top of the board.

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The drawing is completed and now the shuttering needs to be made and the round bar frame needs to be constructed.

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Now all that needs to be done is pour the plaster and allow it enough time to soak up the image below.

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It’s always nerve racking doing a presentation, even if it is just a ten minute one. However, during the time I was preparing this presentation I had an ethical dilemma about the subject matter. The task was to present our topic for our individual essay’s and I have elected to write about the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and its 3 identities. Throughout my research I have been confronted by horrific tails of human cruelty and some very vivid re-enactments and renditions, this left me with worries of whether or not it is my place, or if I have the right to discuss this subject. After rethinking my approach and the realisation that looking at this structure from a western perspective could be beneficial I decided to press on with it.

A plain reading of the history of S-21 is not what I feel is necessary, instead I have decided to look at the manifestations of power within the walls and the power the structure holds now. This will be done in relation to the power structures discussed by Foucault.

The structure has moved seamlessly from a school to a prison to a museum, all of which have got structures of power within them.

The school had western traces already built into it since the education system was a surviving element of the French occupation so it wouldn’t be hard to find traces of the Foucault’s Power/Knowledge ideas implemented within its walls. The school could be seen as a micro centre for control, instead of consolidating all control into a central body, it was individually implemented across different systems, the schools, prisons, barracks and hospitals. The control in these micro-systems allow the image of power to be separated and distributed across smaller groups.

The notion of education hit a reversal point in 1975, with the introduction of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s decision to impose the agrarian society. With the beginning of “year 0” all elements of Cambodian history and culture was to be erased. The power spread across the micro-centres was removed and consolidated into one central point. The first stage of this structures transformation began with the hollowing out of its occupants. The people first and then the interiors with few exceptions. This structure had lost the power imposed on it and now faced a form of punishment for having that power in the first place. It was mutilated to fit its new purpose as a prison.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This is the identity that I experienced and as the name suggests this object now has museum status. It does however have two other functions, one as a memorial and another as a site of performance.

Museums implement the same form of control you’d expect in many micro-centres of power, the interior establishment expects certain behaviours from visitors and implements them with surveillance and other measures.  We also frame them as institutions with our own expectations. Coming from a western society I have certain expectations to what a museum is and how I am expected to behave within them.

This is a bare-bones synopsis of what I am interested in writing about, I know I need to expand on the Foucauldian notions of power and also the agencies that have used the power within this structure, but this will come in due course.

I will be looking to expand on these ideas and will publish the finished result on this blog

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A process which I have become a bit enamoured with is allowing plaster to soak into a drawn image and lifting it off and holding it on the face of the plaster. Above I have the first large cast version of this process. The image was drawn onto a piece of wood which was part of the shuttering, with a round bar frame with chains connected through it. The pencil marks are soaked up and imprinted in the plaster itself. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is find a way of translating the planning and processes I do into the final articles. This could be an interesting way of translating the process.

The transference of the past existence into the present is an important part of the very existence of this structure and something I believe this process can convey.

 

Last year I worked predominantly with a structure I never saw the inside of. I began to realise then that I was drawn to the mystery of the object and its physical appearance. With this structure I don’t have that option. I have seen the interior spaces and I know the stories held within the walls. I am very aware of the sensitive nature of events and how I am looking at it from outside the cultural sphere of the object.

The interior spaces hold a number of objects as well as a distinct design, decoration and alterations, I feel this is a different task from last years and recognise that it isn’t the same aspects I will be dealing with.

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An example of one of the rooms